Colvin, W., Lyden, S., & León de, l. B. (2013). Attracting girls to civil engineering through hands-on activities that reveal the communal goals and values of the profession. Leadership & Management in Engineering, 13(1), 35-41.
- The study determined the impact of a four-week series of civil engineering workshops on Australian middle school girls’ perceptions of engineers and the engineering profession. The goal of the workshops—which included hands-on activities and discussions of engineering theory, examples, and careers—was to familiarize girls with engineering and depict it as a profession in which communal goals are central, which research shows that women value more than men.
- The authors asked female students in grades 5 and 6 to draw and write about an engineer (the Draw an Engineer Test [DAET]) before and after they attended the workshops. The DAET was analyzed for the engineer’s characteristics, such as gender, work activity, and themes (for example, teamwork). The students also completed feedback forms at the end of the program.
- The authors found that by the end of the workshops, students were more likely to draw and describe engineers as women and happy as compared with the pre-program assessment in which the students often depicted engineers as car mechanics. Participants also referenced communal goals more frequently in the follow-up assessment.
- Participants reported in feedback forms a preference for hands-on activities over interactive discussions.
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